What is it about?

Military discharge can be a really difficult experience for service people to process, impacting both how they feel about themselves and their place in the world. This effect may be even more pronounced in individuals from very traumatic childhoods. This study worked with UK ex-servicemen from these traumatic childhoods and explored how their sense of self and the world was impacted during their military discharge. We found that discharge is important, not just for the loss of practical supports but also the social and emotional bonds. These changes/losses can have significant and longstanding impacts on these ex-service men and lead to a sense of feeling caught between the military and civilian life/identities.

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Why is it important?

Military discharge is a significant moment for service people, in particular those from traumatic backgrounds. We already know that this group are more susceptible to poorer mental and physical health outcomes than the general population but also have some of the lowest engagement in post-discharge supports. By spending time to explore and learn from these ex-servicemen's experiences we may be able to better educate professionals and services hoping to work with this unique group, and thus further shape and tailor these interventions to meet their needs, thus giving these individuals the care and support that they deserve.


I am an ex-serviceman myself, and have seen first hand the lack of specific supports provided during and after the military discharge process. I also have been witness to the lack of military cultural competence in post-military supports and services, and how this can impact how comfortable or willing ex-service people are in engaging with supports they need and deserve.

Gerry Dolan
University of Dublin Trinity College

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Military adverse childhood experiences: Ex-servicemen’s experience of military discharge and its impact on their sense of identity., The Humanistic Psychologist, January 2024, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/hum0000344.
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